Not all the buddhist monks in Cambodia listen to their hierarchic superiors. The day after Tep Vong, the supreme patriarch of Cambodia’s Mohanikaya Buddhist sect, and Bou Kry, supreme patriarch of the Dhammayuth sect, suggested there should be a law preventing monks from voting or taking a political stance, some 60 monks led a demonstration of family members and supporters of 18 activists and monks who were sentenced to a 1-year jail sentence after having been arrested during peacefull demonstrations in early November.
The villagers from Kampong Speu province who were affected by ‘Okhna’ Ly Yong Phat’s sugar plantation, which, at one point, was financed by ANZ Royal bank, showed up in front of the bank’s head office, seeking a response to several meetings they had about a compensation. ANZ Royal had notified the villagers that the loan was paid back by Mr. Ly Yong Phat’s company, thus, according to the bank, absolving it from any implication in the land grabbing which affected 300 people. The villagers maintain that the bank violated its public commitment of corporate social responsibility.
After a short interruption due to the Peace March of the previous week, a small crowd of family members, supporters and monks again spent their sunday morning tugging along in a string of tuk-tuks on the dusty road to Prey Sar prison to show their support to the 18 land rights activists and buddhist monks who were arrested during protestes in early November and sent to jail for the next year.
There was an appeals hearing this morning for Ouk Pich Samnang, land rights activist, and Meach Sovannara, oppostion CNRP lawmaker, both arrested for two different incidents during protests over a month ago. There are 16 more land rights activists and buddhist monks who were jailed early November during various protests linked to land issues.
On the other side of the Tonle Sap, trouble erupted at Wat Prochoum Sar Koev when Kong Sophat, buddhist monk close to the Independent Monks for Social Justice (IMNSJ) who is protecting squatters living on the premises of the pagoda was beaten up by 4 monks from the same pagoda during what apparently was a drinking binge. A small incident, but symptomatic of the political division and tensions found within the buddhist community.
Citizens and monks who had been walking from various parts of the country,towards Phnom Penh over the last 5 days during a ‘Peace March’, were joined by a crowd of factory and construction workers in front of the National Assembly to celebrate International Human Rights Day.
There are videos at THIS LINK.
All the groups of citizens and monks, totalling several hundreds, have ended their 5-day journey along the national highways from various cities in Cambodia to reach Phnom Penh during a ‘Peace March’ to promote human rights. They each were denied access for a while by police blockades at the entrance of the city but finally were let through. They now take a rest before marching again in the capital tomorrow to celebrate International Human Rights Day.